PGA Tour Explains 'Inadvertent Error' That Led to Garcia Penalty

In a tweet, the Tour clarified that the Spaniard should have been allowed more time to search for his ball

Sergio Garcia teeing off during the first round of the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The PGA Tour has explained the sequence of events that led to Sergio Garcia's controversial penalty during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Pontomac, revealing the referee made an "inadvertent error" in penalising the Spaniard.

The incident occurred on the par-5 10th when Garcia pulled his tee shot over a creek and into the thick rough. After finding his ball, the 42-year-old was dismayed to learn the rules official had adjudged it to have taken longer than the allotted three minutes and that he would have to take a penalty drop under Rule 17

However, the Tour sought to clarify the chain of events as they transpired, explaining that the clock should have been paused as players in the group made their way to the search site. Read the statement in full below: 

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"As Garcia entered the penalty area, a referee located on the 10th hole started a search time clock, as it appeared a search for the golf ball had begun," it read. "Unbeknownst to the referee, the players in the group were told by a TV spotter that the ball was on the far side of the creek, and at the point, Garcia spent a considerable amount of time trying to access the other side of the creek. 

"This was not in clear view of the referee due to other players in the group playing, so the time clock was still running on the search, when it should have been paused. When the ball was found by Garcia, the referee's three-minute search time had expired, and Garcia was informed the ball was treated as lost."

In the immediate aftermath of the ruling, the former Masters champion was highly critical of the referee and appeared to all but confirm that his future lies on the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series that gets started on June 9 at Centurion Club. 

He said: "I can't wait to leave this tour. A couple more weeks and I won't have to deal with you [the referee] anymore."

Despite the setback, he recovered to make a par before the enigmatic talent holed his second shot on the par-4 15th to move to three-under, where he finished the day in a tie for 17th, four shots behind the early pacesetter, Jason Day.

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as,, and

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x